In a vague response to the proposal of the Trinamool Congress chief Mamta Banerjee, the NDA on Tuesday said that would consult all the political parties to `explore the possibility’ of a No Confidence Motion against this government.
A meeting of the NDA leaders to consider the strategy for the winter session of Parliament beginning on Thursday, several leaders were of the view that a no-trust motion at this juncture is not viable and would only help the Manmohan Singh government.
At the same time they did not want to seen as out rightly throwing away Ms. Banerjee’s proposal to keep the doors open for her party to consider getting into the NDA fold.
“The NDA believes that this government has failed on all the fronts and time has come for it to go”, a statement at the end of the meeting said and added it would explore the options a no-trust vote after consultations with other parties.
However, the NDA was categorical on FDI in multi-brand retail putting an end to speculations that the alliance was divided on whether or not it should insist on putting the motion against the FDI to vote.
The statement recalled that in December, 2011 the UPA government had assured both Houses of Parliament that the decision of the government to bring in FDI in Retail will remain in abeyance till a consensus is arrived at after consultation with political parties and State governments and it has violated this solemn assurance given to both Houses of Parliament.
“The NDA will move a resolution under voting provisions seeking to disapprove the government’s decision and urging the government to withdraw this decision. The NDA appeals to all political parties which supported the Bharat bandh against the decision to bring FDI in Retail, to cooperate in the disapproval of this decision”.
Union parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath set the stage for his meeting on Tuesday with the Chief Whips of all parties, with an hour long discussion with National Democratic Alliance chairperson Sharad Yadav, hours before NDA leaders met to finalise their strategy ahead of the winter session of Parliament.
Asked specifically whether he supported West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s proposal to bring a no-confidence motion or a discussion under a rule that entails voting, Mr Yadav said, “What matters to me is a debate with consensus among the Opposition parties and not any rule under which it takes place…instead of each party evolving a different method to raise the FDI issue in Parliament, it would be in the interest of Opposition parties to evolve a joint strategy so that the debate is fruitful and their strength is shown to the government.”
Meanwhile, Ms Bannerjee, finding no takers for her no-trust motion, said on Tuesday in Kolkatta that she was prepared to visit the CPI (M) headquarters on Alimuddin Street to persuade Biman Bose on the issue: she even said she did not mind if the Left Parties moved the motion and her party backed it.
At the meeting of the Chief Whips, sources said Mr Nath adopted a conciliatory tone with the various party leaders, hearing them all out. This was reflected in the press briefing he had: saying the differences the various parties had with each other were only “signs of a vibrant democracy”, he said that while unanimity was not possible in any parliamentary democracy, his “sincere endeavour would be to achieve the broadest possible consensus” to help push through the government’s agenda over the 20 sittings over the next month.
The Parliamentary Affairs Minister, however, made it clear that if voting became inevitable, the government had a majority. “We are confident of our numbers and, as and when required, we will prove our strength on the floor of the house.”
To a question on whether the Trinamool Congress’s Chief Whip had raised the issue of a no-confidence motion, Mr Nath said, “Yes, he said the party would move a no-confidence motion, but no other party commented on whether they would support it.” He also said that even though he had been an MP since 1980, this was “the first time that a party of 19 MPs was attempting to bring a no-confidence motion”.
Expressing the hope that the winter session would mark “a new start” as the last few had been washed out, he stressed that Parliament belonged to all political parties
While reiterating the fact that there was no precedent to executive decisions (FDI in multi-brand retail) being debated under a rule entailing voting, he said the final decision would be taken by the Speaker and the various parties. Mr Nath confirmed that notices had been received for a discussion on the subject under both Rule 184 (entailing voting) and 193. Reminded of the fact that the disinvestment of BALCO was debated under a rule entailing voting back in 2001, he said “that was not the creation of a policy framework”.
Meanwhile, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar will meet the leaders of various political parties on Wednesday to chalk out the agenda for Parliament. Ms Kumar, too, is expected to urge the leaders to ensure smooth functioning of the lower house of parliament given the fact that 13 out the 20 working days in the previous monsoon session were lost to disruptions by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Among those expected to attend the meeting are leader of the Lok Sabha and Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav, Communist Party of India leader Gurudas Dasgupta and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad besides others.